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After Run To Wrestling World Silver Medal, Adam Coon Ponders Future In Greco, Freestyle Or Maybe Even Football

By Craig Sesker | Dec. 17, 2018, 12 p.m. (ET)

Adam Coon wrestles Minseok Kim during the 2018 World Wrestling Championships on Oct. 27, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary.


Adam Coon had been overseas for nearly a month.

So the first items on his agenda when he returned to his home state of Michigan?

“Eat a home-cooked meal,” he said with a laugh. “And sleep in my own bed. You can’t beat that.”

For Coon, who won a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at his first senior world championships on Oct. 28 in Budapest, Hungary, he’s earned a well-deserved break.

He went right from being an NCAA finalist for Michigan in March to immediately jumping into the international season. Excelling as both a Greco and freestyle wrestler, Coon competed in the world team trials for each discipline, winning his class in Greco and finishing second to two-time world bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski in freestyle.

And then he spent the entire summer and part of the fall training for the world championships, where he became the first American to reach a Greco-Roman world final since 2009. Though he ended up losing that match, his silver medal contributed to the most successful world championships ever for Team USA.

Coon, 24, now has plenty to think about as we move closer to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

First and foremost is will he keep wrestling both styles?

“I have a lot to think about with Greco and freestyle,” he said. “I did well in Greco, but I also was close to making the team in freestyle. I will take some time and consider my options. I love both styles. They are so different, but there are a lot of similarities for me too in the way I wrestle. They are both very fun styles for me to compete in.”

The massive 6-foot-5, 285-pound Coon also hasn’t ruled out pursuing a career in pro football. He was an all-state linebacker in high school but hasn’t played since then. However, an April story in the Michigan Daily said NFL teams had inquired about Coon trying out as an offensive lineman.

“Playing football would be something to look into,” he said. “I don’t really know at this point. We will see how it goes with wrestling. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do yet. It would be fun to give football a shot.”

Yet his ultimate career goal doesn’t involve wrestling. Coon graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in aerospace engineering before earning his master’s degree in space engineering.

“I definitely want to go the aerospace route,” he said. “I will have a lot of different options for what I want to pursue in that area.”

For now, though, his wrestling career is looking bright.

Coon delivered a memorable performance at the world championships in providing a much-needed spark for the struggling U.S. Greco program. Coon, who had medaled at the world level as a cadet and junior, recorded four straight pins in Budapest to storm into the heavyweight finals.

He then ran into a wrestler, Russia’s Sergey Semenov, he had lost to at the 2014 junior world championships.

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The body lock Coon had used to pin four opponents in Budapest wasn’t as effective in the final as Semenov hit two four-point moves en route to a 9-0 win.

“My goal was to win it, so I was disappointed with that match,” Coon said. “It was a challenging experience leading up to worlds with some really hard training — it was grueling. I was happy to be on the podium, but you’re never satisfied with a silver medal. There is still one spot higher I can go and more work to be done.”

Coon said even after being thrown the first time against Semenov, he was confident he could return the favor later in the match.

“I always want to go out there and score points, and I still felt like I could score on him,” Coon said. “He was just too good with his lock and too good with his hips. I have to figure out some other ways to score.”

Coon said he experienced “a roller coaster of emotions” after the finals.

“I just tried to hold my head high,” he said. “I had nothing to be ashamed of. I had reached the world finals. There was a lot of work that went into that. To not come out on top, it hurts. I broke down and got a little emotional after I left the arena. I felt a little bit of pain, that’s for sure. I have dreamed about being on top of the podium. I experienced the high of reaching the finals, but then losing abruptly in the finals was pretty rough.”

U.S. Greco-Roman coach Matt Lindland came away impressed after working extensively with his young heavyweight.

“Adam is a tremendous human being,” Lindland said. “He’s very disciplined and has a great work ethic. He’s a fighter who knows how to compete. And he’s so coachable. It was a tough transition for him and a big learning curve for him when he started training full-time in Greco this summer. He believes in the process and what we’ve been telling him in practice.

“I’m excited and thrilled to see Adam work and persevere to become a world finalist. He put a game plan together and he wrestled at a very high pace that wore his opponents down.”

For now, the Olympic Games are fully on Coon’s radar.

“The Olympics are really close,” he said. “There will be a lot of emphasis on making that team. It’s always been a dream of mine to be an Olympic champion. I have two more years to get that much better so I can achieve that dream.”

Craig Sesker is a sports writer based out of Waverly, Iowa. He has covered three Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.